Ginebra, TNT begin title series
Both the Tropang Giga and the Gin Kings know it’s going to take a Herculean effort to get it done, especially with a heavyweight on the opposite side.
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Ginebra, TNT begin title series

Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - November 29, 2020 - 12:00am

Philippines cup dream match

SMART CLARK GIGA CITY, Philippines — After enduring 17 backbreaking games in the last 49 days, TNT and Ginebra are well within reach of the ultimate prize, the most satisfying reward for all their sacrifices in the bubble.

Just four more wins to reach the end goal in the prestigious PBA Philippine Cup.

Both the Tropang Giga and the Gin Kings know it’s going to take a Herculean effort to get it done, especially with a heavyweight on the opposite side.

They wage war in a best-of-seven affair beginning at 6 p.m. today at the AUF Sports Arena Powered by Smart 5G.

“Playing against Ginebra is really tough,” TNT coach Bong Ravena said.

“They have a coach who’s very experienced, especially in the finals. We were outplayed by them in the elims. We will do our best to play well,” he added.

The Gin Kings indeed got the better of the Tropang Giga in their Nov. 6 encounter, 85-79, and copped the top seeding. But Tim Cone claimed No. 3 TNT enjoys the edge in this explosive matchup.

“I think we’re the slight underdogs. They’ve been playing pretty well, they’re well-coached and they’ve got Jayson (Castro), who is the difference maker,” said Cone of TNT’s tried-and-tested playmaker.

“We had a hard time controlling Chris Newsome in the (semifinal) series against Meralco and that scares us a bit because as great as he is, Jayson is taking it to another level. So we hope to figure out a way to control him,” he added.

Castro is surrounded by a solid core led by sophomore Bobby Ray Parks Jr., who’s been making a strong case for the bubble MVP plum with his consistent all-around games (22.5 points, 8.06 rebounds, 3.06 assists per match).

There’s also RR Pogoy, who can explode any given night, Simon Enciso, who can defend while helping offensively, and Gilas Pilipinas vets JP Erram and Troy Rosario.

Ginebra’s ammo is also fully loaded with Stanley Pringle, Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson and LA Tenorio at the tip. Pringle dropped 28-12-2 on TNT in their lone bubble faceoff and should be the major focus of TNT’s defensive schemes.

The two came off hard-fought semis battles similarly settled in sudden death. TNT had to beat Phoenix twice (102-101 and 91-81) before wresting a 3-2 verdict while Ginebra needed a last-gasp triple from Thompson to win the rubber over Meralco (83-80).

“We were fortunate to face Phoenix in the semis, they brought out the best in us and made us better. It helped us get ready for the finals,” said Ravena.

TNT and Ginebra are facing off in the finals for the first time in nine years – the last time during the 2011 Commissioner’s Cup, where TNT won 4-2. Before that was the 2004-05 season’s All-Filipino, where Ginebra prevailed in six.

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